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Gone Viral: Challenging some of the online myths associated with COVID-19

In keeping with social distancing regulations, April brought our first proper online meetup, with an informative and very relevant talk on debunking COVID-19 myths from Simon Leonard, an infection control nurse at the Gold Coast University Hospital, the epicenter of the crisis in Queensland.

Following a detailed explanation of infection transmission and immunology, Simon provided a comprehensive analysis of a range of myths and false beliefs relating to COVID-19, beginning with the hoarding of resources, which provide relatively little personal protection, but lead to a drastic shortage of supplies available for the medical professionals risking their lives to help save ours.

So, what else isn’t helping the crisis? While an effective cure has yet to be found, it’s clear that neither cocaine nor cannabis are likely to be helpful. Drinking won’t eliminate the virus either, whether it be whisky, methanol, bleach, or 16L of water a day. Attempts at praying coronavirus away have failed everywhere from Mecca to the Vatican – indeed, with many churches ignoring or being exempted from isolation regulations, it seems to be a better place to catch it than to cure it. When in doubt, listen to medical experts from the likes of the World Health Organisation, not homeopaths spruiking essential oils, celebrities endorsing magical devices and vitamin supplements, or antivax bloggers recommending coffee enemas or cow dung and ‘urine therapy’. If you’re in need of isolation entertainment, please spread the manure on your veggie garden and drink your coffee normally, and stay away from protests and conspiracy theories. And if you get sick, go to a hospital; do not try and fix it at home by drinking chloroquine, bleach, or head lice shampoo.

In light of these myths which are proving almost as dangerous as the virus itself, Simon reminded us of the rules of isolation and the dangers of not following these guidelines. Boring though quarantine may be, the only way to flatten the curve is to work together (metaphorically), so stay home and stay clean!

Listen to Simon's talk: here Slides: here

About the speaker:

Simon Leonard

Clinical Nurse, Infection Control Department, Gold Coast University Hospital

Simon Leonard is a Clinical Nurse working in the Gold Coast University Hospital's Infection Control Department. With more than 25 years experience in Nursing, Simon has previously worked with Gold Coast Public Health and Queensland Health's Communicable Diseases Branch on Pandemic Planning and was part of the Gold Coast Hospital's Infection Control team in 2009 when those plans were implemented during the Swine flu pandemic.

Gold Coast University Hospital has seen a significant number of the Australian Covid-19 Coronavirus cases. The Infection Control team at GCUH has been guiding the care to ensure the safety of staff and visitors to while managing these cases and ensure the specialist medical teams attending to the patient can do so without fear of transmission. As an Australian Skeptic with a background in Infection Prevention and Control, Simon can see the misinformation on social media is competing with valid messages of public importance. In this session Simon hopes to allay some of the fears, share some of the more amusing myths, and most importantly share the information from trusted, evidence-based sources.

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